After working with chef brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin on and off for more than 20 years, Warren Geraghty was first choice to take on the group executive chef role at Galvin Restaurants. Janie Manzoori-Stamford finds out how the relationship has developed
I met Warren in 1993 at Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane. He started as a commis and I was chef de partie, and we struck up a friendship. When we were opening the two restaurants in Edinburgh [Brasserie de Luxe and the Pompadour], Chris [Galvin] and I thought that things were getting a bit big. Warren became available
and we seized that opportunity.
He is probably the only person we could have employed in that role because he has such a history of working with Chris and me. It's a difficult role because he's got to drop into any of our kitchens, and if it was a stranger I don't think there would be the same level of respect. It's like having another brother, if that
Chris and I have a lot of things that we'd like to do that we can't achieve on our own - basic stuff like visiting colleges to speak to third-years, because it's lovely to inspire them. He'sable to fulfil our wish list of ambitions, such as the supplier awards that we launched this year and our annual food and drink festival.
Warren is a great technician and very precise, which is important in a role like his because you've got to set standards. He's got enthusiasm and tenacity and strives for excellence. If he wanted to go, we know that he wouldn't say 'I'm leaving next week' - he'd tell us he was thinking of possibly doing something.
If Warren wanted to open his own restaurant in the UK, I'd love to think that we could play a part in it, because it's not easy. You need to get the money from somewhere and you end up with that situation where whoever you get it from is really in control and you don't have true ownership. I'm not interested in our
name being on it, but it would be nice for us to be able to help Warren facilitate his own venture and ultimately pay it off over time so he doesn't have anyone on his back.
I've grown up with Jeff and Chris, working with one or the other as my head chef throughout most of my career. They were the people I looked up to and learned my new ways from. I worked at the West Restaurant in Vancouver for a bit and, when I came back about two-and-a- half years ago, who else would I ring?
We very much work things out together. There are lots of conversations and, while the decisions come down to Jeff and Chris, it is my job to give them the options and then put in place their choices. The role allows me to travel and has taken me to Tbilisi in Georgia, Dubai and the Highlands of Scotland for research or as the result of an invitation.
But if one of the other chefs in the group needs to go, then I can hold the fort for them in their kitchen, which I quite like doing now and then. It keeps me in touch with everybody and, after 20-odd years as a chef, this isn't a job anyone would do for very long if they didn't get to work in the kitchen. Plus it allows me to spot any issues that need to be addressed.
Sometimes there are people you work with who change the dynamic of a kitchen when they walk into it. I've never had that with Jeff or Chris and I hope that it's the same when I go into any of our kitchens; that no one thinks 'oh, Warren's here, don't let him see that…', because that exists in a lot of places.
When I first took the job, which hadn't existed previously, it was quite difficult to work out where I needed to be and what I wanted to do. Chris had a similar experience as chefdirector at Conran and he told me I'd feel like a fish out of water. I started to keep track of my activities and speak to Jeff and Chris at the end of every week about what had been happening, though I see one or both of them every day.
By the time we came back to London after Scotland, the job had created itself and now I think it grows month on month. My biggest accomplishment is that I've become incredibly organised. In my kitchen - a four-wall environment where I've got my fridges and my dry store - I'm fine, because I know where everything is; I can put my hand out and touch it.
All of a sudden I was in this roving role where I could be anywhere doing anything, and I found it really difficult. Then someone told me to get a diary and start writing things down, and all of a sudden my life made sense. It could have gone either way though. In the back of my mind I knew that even though I'm
friends with Jeff and Chris we'd have had to sit down for an honest conversation six months down the line if things weren't working out.
I don't know what the future holds. Jeff and Chris have always said they'd support me if I did go and do something on my own. There's always been complete transparency in the business, so I sit with them on the P&L meetings and they teach me how money moves, what you have to do and how you have to do it.
That's part of my ongoing learning experience.
A lot of chefs probably don't get a great insight into that before they open their own place. It's been a real luxury for me to see and learn that.
Chris and Jeff Galvin opened their debut venue Bistrot de Luxe in 2005, and it didn't take long for the pair to become exemplars for French restaurants in the
capital and beyond.
Having launched seven sites in their first seven years, their portfolio today boasts Michelin stars at Galvin at Windows and La Chappelle, premium bistros in Bistrot de Luxe, Café a Vin and Harrods concession Demoiselle, as well as Pompadour and Brasserie de Luxe in Edinburgh.
The brothers have also launched numerous initiatives, including charity and training work with Galvin's Chance and the Galvin Cup, the Galvin Outstanding Supplier Awards and the Galvin Food & Drink Festival.
About Warren Geraghty
Warren Geraghty's relationship with the Galvin brothers spans two decades. It started when Geraghty joined the brigade at Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane as a commis chef, where he worked alongside sous chef Jeff Galvin.
He then worked for Marco Pierre White at the opening of the Criterion in Piccadilly and at David Moore and Richard Neat's Pied a Terre. When Neat left the restaurant, Geraghty turned to Chris Galvin for career advice, resulting in a move to Restaurant Stefano Cavallini at the Halkin. He later worked for Chris at the Orrery before moving to the Greenhouse, where he again worked under Jeff.
Geraghty moved on to work again for both Pierre White at the Oak Room and Neat at Restaurant Neat in France before returning to the UK to take the helm of Aurora, with Chris as group executive chef. Two years later, he took over at L'Escargot from Jeff, who was about to open Bistrot de Luxe with his brother,
before moving to Vancouver where he ran the kitchen of West Restaurant and published his first book. On returning to the UK two-and-a-half years ago, he took the role of group executive chef for Galvin Restaurants.
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